Electronics lift Singapore’s factory output: govt

November 26, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFP

A jump in electronics output pushed Singapore’s factory production up by an annual 3.6 percent in October, government data showed Thursday.

Last month’s rise in factory output marked a turnaround from a revised 6.3 percent decline recorded for September, the Economics Development Board (EDB) said in its monthly report.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, factory output during October fell 6.7 percent, it said.

Singapore’s monthly industrial output data is one of the most widely monitored economic indicators as the manufacturing sector accounts for almost a quarter of economic activity.

The bulk of output from the sector, shipped out either as final goods or as components to foreign factories, has been affected by the global slump as orders evaporated amid tumbling demand as the financial crisis set in.

However, Singapore’s electronics industry posted a 17.7 percent surge in output last month as factories were kept busy fulfilling orders for computer peripherals and computer chips, the EDB said.

The increase was the first after 14 straight months of contractions.

The rise in electronics output was tempered by weak output from the biomedical sector, which posted a modest 0.8 percent growth.

In particular, pharmaceutical output, which is grouped under biomedical, disappointed analysts.

“Our lofty expectations for pharmaceuticals production did not pan out last month as drug output slipped 0.7 percent year-on-year in October,” said Alvin Liew, an economist with Standard Chartered Bank.

Liew had earlier forecast production to rise 60 percent year-on-year in October.

Pharmaceutical output is usually volatile with huge swings in production levels because the plants are routinely closed for maintenance while output targets can vary due to different products being made.

Excluding biomedical, overall factory output actually rose 4.3 percent.

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